24 January 2023

The highlights below are from the quarterly meeting of the Vaccine Advisory Committee in December 2022. Much of this update is taken directly or paraphrased from the meeting presentation by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in order to provide accurate content to our members and community.

DOH Staffing Updates. There are several staffing updates from the DOH. Jamilia Sherls-Jones, DNP, MPH, RN, CPN, CDP, is the new Director of the Office of Immunization Director and can be reached at Jamilia.Sherls-Jones@doh.wa.gov. Meghan Cichy, MPHc, RDN, is the new Senior Policy Analyst and can be reached at Meghan.Cichy@doh.wa.gov. Heather Drummond, MPH, is the new COVID-19 Vaccine Director and can be reached at Heather.Drummond@doh.wa.gov.

CDC ACIP Recommendation Updates. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to include approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the routine immunization schedule and the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program at its October 2022 meeting. The updated immunization schedules will be available in 2023, but the inclusion in the VFC program will not take place until there is a date for vaccine commercialization. This vote does not mandate a school requirement for the vaccines.

COVID-19 Bivalent Booster Updates. The ages of eligibility for the bivalent COVID-19 booster have been expanded. COVID-19 vaccine providers are now able to offer omicron variant-targeted bivalent booster doses to children ages 6 months and older. The newly released recommendations include:

  • Children ages 6 months through 5 years who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent booster 2 months after their final primary series dose.
  • Children ages 6 months through 4 years who are currently completing a Pfizer primary series will receive a Pfizer bivalent vaccine as their third primary dose.
  • Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have already completed their three-dose primary series with Pfizer are not eligible for a bivalent booster dose at this time.

Additionally, the booster recommendations have been simplified. Moving forward, dose counting should be unnecessary; instead, a bivalent booster dose should be offered to anyone eligible.

DOH Webinar Series for Healthcare Workers. The DOH offers a webinar series for healthcare workers. In response to a recent survey about the content of these webinars, 70% of attendees strongly agreed and 30% agreed with the statement "I will use what I learned in the webinar today in my role as a health care professional." When presented with the statement "This webinar was a good use of my time", 60% of attendees strongly agreed and 40% agreed. You can catch the next webinar, Active Coping in the Long-Term: Health Care Provider Resilience, from 12p to 1p on Friday, January 27, 2023.

DOH Care-A-Van. Did you know? You can request a Care-A-Van! This service is available at no cost to partners across the state through the DOH mobile COVID-19 vaccination initiative. This initiative works closely with community partners and local health jurisdictions to increase access to vaccines for priority communities. The Care-A-Van administers all age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine doses and limited monkeypox vaccine and influenza vaccine. It provides all the supplies and equipment needed to host outdoor clinics, if needed (e.g. pop-up tents, tables, chairs, signage). To request the Care-A-Van, visit www.doh.wa.gov/careavan

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are continuing to extend product expiration dates for their COVID-19 vaccines. Click the links below for the most up to date information on each.

  • Pfizer: https://lotexpiry.cvdvaccine.com
  • Moderna: https://modernacovid19global.com/vial-lookup
  • Novavax: https://us.novavaxcovidvaccine.com/hcp
  • Johnson and Johnson/Janssen: https://vaxcheck.jnj/
  • Vaccine Waste Guidance: Toolkit and Resources | DOH

Note that monovalent vaccines are anticipated to begin phasing out early next year. Also note that single dose vials of bivalent boosters are currently available from Pfizer in small amounts.

Required vs. Recommended Immunizations for Children. For children entering child care or school (preschool through 12th grade) in 2022/2023, the following immunizations are required by Washington State:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Dtap/Tdap
  • IPV
  • MMR
  • Varicella
  • PCV (under age 5 years)
  • Hib (under age 5 years

Vaccines Required for Child Care 2022-2023

Vaccines Required for Preschool-12th Grade School 2022-2023

In addition to the above, the following immunizations are recommended by ACIP for this population:

  • Hepatitis A
  • HPV
  • Meningococcal
  • Influenza
  • Rotavirus
  • COVID-19

Summary Assessment of Implementation of EHB 1638: Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases. The implementation of this law (passed in 2019/2020 legislative session) have been associated with increases in kindergarten MMR completion rates, but this impact is likely partially offset by increases in religious exemptions for immunizations. Immunization rates differ between public and private schools and vary geographically. There is a sense that eliminating personal belief exemptions while allowing other exemption types for the MMR vaccine only may be an effective approach to increase MMR coverage while balancing parental autonomy.

~Mary Koehnke ND, FABNP - WANP Liaison to WA DOH VAC